Hampton native wins Central Catholic Biathlon
A former Hampton resident. who rowed for Cornell University. triumphed recently in an event that has Ivy League roots.
Connor Hayes, 23, took first place in the open men's division at the Central Catholic Biathlon on Dec. 9 at the Three Rivers Rowing boathouse on Washington's Landing.
Hayes completed the 10k ergometer in 37 minutes, 44 seconds, and a 10k run in 37:31. His total of 1:15:15 was 19 seconds ahead of runner-up Zach Petronic, a former USRowing national team member.
The annual event is patterned after the Newell triathlon at Harvard, where Central Catholic coach and Fox Chapel resident Jay Hammond rowed. It raises money for a foundation in Hammond's name that provides need-based stipends to Central Catholic students who want to join the rowing team.
Winners receive T-shirts with fuzzy lettering.
It was the fourth time Hayes — a former Central Catholic rower — competed and the first time he won. He placed third last year after competing twice in high school.
Hayes, who lives in Pittsburgh's Brookline neighborhood and works in banking, said there is a number of things he likes about the event.
“The longer distance of the race puts smaller athletes like me on a more level playing field with larger competitors who would generally out muscle them over shorter distances,” said Hayes, a lightweight rower. “The duration also adds a pretty heavy mental component to the race as you have to pace yourself intelligently — not so fast that you burn out early and not so slow that you finish with a lot of gas in the tank.
“For those who are fit enough to win the race, this often means putting your body in a sustainable but uncomfortable position for an extended period of time. The race requires you to be a pretty well-rounded athlete.”
Hammond said the victory by his former charge was hard earned.
“It was going to be tough to beat Zach but Connor is very fit and had been working hard all fall,” Hammond said.
Hayes looks forward to competing again.
“You're always glad the race is over but know that you will be re-entering the following year,” he said.
Hayes said an early start and the cold weather add character to the event.
“The boathouse is full for the entire morning and early afternoon and there's always a crowd at the finish line,” he said.
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributor.